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Artpark programs, Sanborn parking lot considered for Greenway funding

LEWISTON – Summer programming at Artpark and a request for funds to pave a parking lot in Sanborn are the projects seeking Niagara River Greenway funding in March.

The Greenway Commission is to meet March 15 to vote on whether the requests are consistent with the goals of the Greenway, but its decision makes no difference as to whether the money actually is provided.

In Niagara County, that decision is up to the Host Communities Standing Committee, which meets March 16. It has exclusive control over Greenway cash in the county.

The money is provided by the New York Power Authority under terms of the 2005 license renewal for operation of the Niagara Power Project. The power authority has a seat on the host communities committee, as do the county, the City of Niagara Falls, the towns of Lewiston and Niagara, and the Niagara Falls, Lewiston-Porter and Niagara Wheatfield school districts.

The terms of the Greenway law allow the money to be spent almost anywhere in Niagara County, not just within close proximity to the Niagara River. If the proposed project lies within one of the host communities or near the Erie Canal, Seaway Trail or Niagara Wine Trail, funding also is allowed.

The Town of Lewiston is sponsoring both projects: $200,000 to pave and light a 100-car parking lot at the Sanborn Area Historical Society’s complex, 2660 Saunders Settlement Road, and Artpark’s request for $165,000 for “interactive children and family festivals and programming.” Those programs have a total budget of nearly $300,000.

The request does not include money for Artpark’s popular summer concert series. It does seek money for the Artpark Tales Festival, a two-day outdoor event that would include street theater artists from overseas to entertain and interact with the spectators. Theater groups from Australia, Israel, Estonia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia have confirmed their interest and availability, according to Artpark’s funding application.

Another funded program would be Earthsong, a Tuscarora Indian storytelling installation. The motion-sensored machine would play recordings of traditional Tuscarora stories recorded by residents of the Tuscarora Reservation. Carin Jean White, an independent artist in residence, will help create and manage the program, expected to run from mid-June through September.

Artpark also plans a percussion garden, in partnership with the University at Buffalo Music Department. The interactive installation will give visitors a chance to create their own beats, while enhancing Artpark’s existing Music in the Woods program, slated for six concerts this summer.

Other Artpark plans include Baila Brazil, an outdoor dance carnival with Brazilian artists, July 13-17; a theatrical production of “Hansel and Gretel,” to be presented six to eight times; an outdoor public art project called “Artpark as a Living Laboratory,” curated by Mary Miss, an original Artpark sculptor who created an installation in the park 40 years ago; and six weeks of summer youth camps, including four weeks of rock-and-roll camp in association with Buffalo’s Music is Art organization.

The Sanborn parking lot proposal wouldn’t be the first time the historical society has received Greenway funds. In December 2013, the Host Communities Standing Committee granted the group $175,000 to move a nearly 200-year-old building formerly used as a church and an American Legion post from Pearl Street in Sanborn to the society’s grounds.

Written comments on the projects will be accepted until March 7 by email to Angela.Berti@parks.ny.gov, or by mail to the Niagara River Greenway Commission, P.O. Box 1132, Niagara Falls, NY 14303.

The commission’s March 15 meeting is set for 3 p.m. at the Niagara University Global Tourism Institute, 225 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls. The host communities meeting is slated for noon March 22 in the headquarters of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, 6311 Inducon Corporate Drive, Wheatfield.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com